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John 17:5-10 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 4 mins 29 secs

Hypostatic Union

John 17:1-3 NASB "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent'."

A key concept in this whole prayer is glory, and glorification means to bring honour and respect to God. One of the roles of Jesus Christ is that He is the one who bestows eternal life. He does that not because of who we are or what we have done. Salvation is totally dependent on who Jesus Christ is. So if Jesus Christ is not God He is not perfect, He does not possess perfect righteousness, He would have been born a man tainted by sin. That is the purpose for the virgin conception and virgin birth, for the sin nature, we are told in Scripture, is passed down through the male, not through the woman. It wasn't Eve's sin that caused the fall of the human race, it was Adam's sin: "In Adam all died." What happened in the virgin conception was that God the Holy Spirit supernaturally fertilised the ovum in Mary's womb, so that by bypassing a human father Jesus does not inherit a sin nature from a father. He is born impeccable. That means He was born without sin and He did not possess a sin nature. Without a sin nature means that Jesus was born without the imputation of Adam's sin and therefore He is born perfect. He is born as Adam was created, without sin, and He is therefore going to pass the test that Adam failed. Because of His perfect righteousness because of His deity He can go to the cross and die as our substitute.

How do we get eternal life? " … that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent'." Notice that salvation is based on Jesus Christ alone, and it is based on knowledge; not experience but what God says in His Word.

John 17:4 NASB "I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do." So Jesus glorifies—brings honour and respect to God the Father—by being obedient, i.e. by carrying out the plan of God by going to the cross and dying there for our salvation. At this point He is on the verge of doing that. He has glorified God in His life up to this point and He will complete the mission on the next day when he goes to the cross.

John 17:5 NASB "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." In the ancient church as they grappled with an understanding of Scripture the first question they grappled with was the question: What was Jesus before He came? Once they understood that the Scriptures taught Jesus is eternal God, that He was full deity, the next question they had to ask was: How did this manifest itself in time? What was Jesus when he came? What is the nature of the incarnation? How does the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ relate to one another? What happened to that glory during the time of the incarnation?

Philippians 2:5 NASB "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, [6] who, although He existed in the form of God …" That word "form" in the Greek is morphe [morfh]. It had a technical meaning in Greek philosophy. Plato used it to indicate the ultimate ideal. So what it comes to mean is the essence of a thing, not just its external shape. To the Greeks what made a thing what it was wasn't its external shape but its internal essence. So morphe has to do with internal essence. "… did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped." That is a contrast to Adam. Remember what happened in the garden? Adam was told not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then Satan taking on the form of a serpent comes to Eve and says the reason God said that is because He knew that if you did that you would become like God. She thought she would like to be like God so she grabbed the fruit. Then Adam comes along. Eve is deceived but Adam goes into it wilfully. What we find in Philippians is that Jesus, in contrast to Adam who grabbed for deity, has it but doesn't grab for it. [7] "but emptied …" This is the controversial term, kinao [kinaw], from which we get the noun kenosis. What it means to empty Himself is not that He gave up deity. If He gave up deity or any divine attributes then He would be less than God. What it means is that Jesus under the authority of God the Father willingly restricted the independent use of divine attributes during the incarnation. He does display these within the framework of the plan for the incarnation. There are times that He displayed His deity but He does not utilise His attributes independent of God's plan.  " … Himself, taking the form [morfh] of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men." Jesus said He did not come to be served but to serve by giving His life as a ransom for many. He didn't give up deity, He added humanity. The word "likeness" is the Greek homoioma [o(moiwma] which means the external likeness. He takes on humanity, it is likeness, but it is not identical because man is fallen. He takes on everything but a sin nature. [8] Being found in appearance …" This is the word schemati [sxhmati] which has to do with the external appearance/shape. "… as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." That is the point of the prayer, Jesus is glorifying the Father by carrying out the task of salvation.

In the early church they had a problem with trying to understand this. Having gone through a couple of centuries of debate over the exact relationship of Jesus they finally formulated the statement at the Council of Chalcedon. There they agreed: "We apprehend this one and only Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, in two natures [undiminished deity and true humanity], and we do this without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories [where there are two separate categories and there is no unity of person], without contrasting them according to area or function, the distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the properties of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one person in one essence…" (This is where we get the term "hypostatic union," it is the union of the two essences in one person, the unity of undiminished deity in true humanity in one person) "They are not divided or cut into two persons but are together the one and only and only-begotten Logos of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified, thus the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us, thus the symbol of the Father has handed down to us [an allusion to God the Holy Spirit]."

When Jesus is talking to the Father in the prayer in John 17 he is talking about the fact that He has veiled His glory, His essence, except for a couple of occasions, because He has come to display God to the human race and to reveal God to man. That is why He prays, "glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." So from all eternity Jesus Christ has been undiminished deity and from the moment of resurrection or ascension into heaven His full glory is manifest again.

In the first five verses Jesus is relating to the Father His own mission, His fulfilment and completion of that mission, and His future role at the right hand of God the Father. That role today at the right hand of God the Father is called the session of Jesus Christ. During His present session in heaven one of His primary tasks is intercession for the believer. He continuously prays for every single believer, and this is what we see in the next section of this high-priestly prayer. He begins a prayer of intercession for the disciples and the coming church that will develop from the day of Pentecost on.

John 17:6 NASB "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world …" This was His task. We can look at Scriptures such as John 1:18 where John tells us that no man has seen God at any time. Thus in the Old Testament all of those revelations from God such as when God appeared in the burning bush, when  Isaiah saw God on His throne, it was not God the Father who was seen but the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. It is the role of the second person of the Trinity to reveal to the human race what God is like. How do we know what God is like? By learning about Jesus Christ and studying what the Scripture says about Him; that is the only way to know God. What does He means when He says, "I have manifested thy name"? We have seen in the Scriptures that this is an idiom. In Jewish culture a name was designed to reflect the essence of something. So when He says this it is a fulfilment of what John said in John 1:18: "the only-begotten of the Father has revealed Him [God]." He has revealed the essence of God to those whom God gave Him, and there it is a reference specifically to the disciples. "… they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word." Here it is a clear reference to the fact that these eleven who are left have put their faith and trust in Christ and are saved; Judas was not.

John 17:7 NASB "Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You." This is the perfect active indicative of ginosko [ginwskw], they have come to know. There are two different Greeks words used for knowledge. One is oida [o)ida]. When there is a distinction between oida and ginosko, oida often refers to an intuitive knowledge. ginosko refers to a knowledge where you come to learn through study or instruction. The word ginosko is used here because Jesus has clearly taught the disciples about God and about Himself. [8] "for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received {them} and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me."

John 17, 7, 8 KJV "Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. [8] For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me." One of the things that must be done in translation is decide how to punctuate in English. The original Greek had no punctuation. Punctuation was done through syntax and was something that was inferred, not overt. The KJV shows v. 7 as an independent sentence and then begins v. 8 as a new sentence. The KJV translators had a tendency to try to make every versed an independent sentence, but what we find in the Greek is that verse 8 begins with a hoti [o(ti] clause. It is a causal participle usually translated because or for. Here we run into a problem, and that is that in the translation and understanding of a causal sentence here. Two different meanings are possible by how we punctuate a sentence. In the many times that hoti is used it is used less than ten times where it begins the clause. So when we come to a passage like John 17:7, 8 the causal statement, v.8, needs to go with v. 7. The period should really come after the "them" in v. 8. Jesus says" "Now they have come to know that everything thou hast given me is from thee because the words which thou gavest me I have given to them." In other words, how is it that the disciples came to know Jesus? Because "the words that you gave me I have given to them."

Jesus says that the way they came to know Him is because He taught them. He doesn't use the word logos, which emphasises words, He uses rhema which indicates teaching, the spoken word, instruction. He is saying "they came to know me because I instructed them with the teaching that you gave me." God communicates through words. If we are going to understand God then there is a technical vocabulary that God has given us for understanding Him. Many of these words are found in Scripture and some of them were coined by the writers of Scripture in order to more precisely communicate about God. So words are important. If we don't understand them correctly then our application is going to be wrong. Another thing to emphasise is how Jesus taught the disciples. It was on a regular basis. He taught them day in and day out, it wasn't just once a week. He built into them a total way of thinking. People need doctrine daily. We are kidding ourselves if we think we don't need the truth and need to hear it day in and day out.

John 17:9 NASB "I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world [unbelievers], but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours." Jesus is concerned for those who believe on Him and He is not concerned for those who don't. Jesus' concern for unbelievers is salvation, but that is not the focus of this prayer and that is why Jesus is not praying for unbelievers.

John 17:10 NASB "and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them." Jesus could not have used more precise language to say that he is one with the Father. He claims to be undiminished deity and true humanity, identical with God.

John 17:11 NASB "I am no longer in the world [in the sense of being on the earth]; and {yet} they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, {the name} which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We {are.}" Believers are still in the world, surrounded by the cosmic system and false teaching. Being "one" here is not a unity of essence but a unity of plan and purpose and role. His prayer is that we are kept, a reference to eternal security.

John 17:12 NASB "While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled." The term "son of perdition" relates to Judas. The Greek word there comes from the noun apollumi [a)pollumi] which is the same word that is used in John 3:16 for "perish." So the term there for perdition is a term used for someone who does not have eternal salvation.